Our group focuses on aging and mental health, two increasingly pressing quality of life issues. Current projects include:
• Open Senolytics: Senolytics are a powerful new class of longevity therapeutic. They selectively kill disease-causing senescent cells that accumulate in our bodies as we age. In this project we will test a class of drugs we identified called cationic amphipathic drugs (CADs) that we’ve shown in preliminary studies to have powerful senolytic activity. Based on the drugs’ chemistry we propose this class acts like an intracellular soap to ‘clean out’ these ‘old’ senescent cells from the body. Because many of the drugs we’re testing are already in use in humans and are inexpensive, and we will make our results publicly available, our goal is to accelerate the longevity field by providing immediately useful therapies.
• Supplements Death Match: We will test popular longevity supplements in head-to-head experiments to determine which ones have the best longevity effects. We will compare over the counter (OTC) supplements that cover all the major areas of longevity metabolism: e.g., Elysium's Basis and ChromaDex's TruNiagen (NAD+ metabolism), Rujevant's LifeTabs (Alpha-Ketoglutarate), Tom Brady's TB12 Perform supplement (a variety of natural products including Ashwagandha), Vitamin C, D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Ketone Bodies, and Spermidine. We are open to test other supplements, so please feel free to suggest them in the comments. We will also compare these OTC supplements to the gold standard prescription longevity drugs, rapamycin and metformin.
• The 10X Lifespan Project: The leading anti-aging strategy, manipulating the cellular insulin/mTOR pathway, causes a 0.1X lifespan extension. In addition to this increased lifespan being quantitatively modest, it is unclear whether it's a qualitative improvement. We aim for a 10X extension of healthy living. This project is discipline agnostic, meaning we are considering theoretical, organismal, societal, and environmental approach.
• A Molecular Diagnostic for Mood: Mental health professionals lack a rigorous diagnostic tool like physicians have with glucose, cholesterol, and cell number measurements for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, respectively. We aim to change that.
• Disruptive Innovation of Blockbuster Drugs: Blockbuster drugs like the SSRIs/lithium (depression/bipolar disorder), statins (cardiovascular disease), bisphosphonates (osteoporosis, cancer metastasis to bone), and the biguanides (diabetes) are time-tested medicines that we argue are now critically overlooked as tools to teach us about health and disease. We employ genetic, metabolic, and computational systems approaches to discover new biology and treatments in the biological space these drugs occupy.
Decades after the sequencing of the human genome, why do so many human genes remain poorly understood?
“Software is eating the world”, as internet pioneer Marc Andreessen said. As programming has gained greater adoption across scientific disciplines, numerous online biology resources and software packages have been developed to help scientists discover gene function. Despite considerable advances in both molecular biology and computation, a large fraction, ~25%, of human genes remain poorly characterized. Numerous algorithms have been developed to predict gene function through sequence, conservation, and structure. While these tools have improved our understanding of previously studied genes, less has been done to unmask the functions for the large pool of poorly characterized genes. Furthermore, existing computational tools for identifying novel gene functions often have cumbersome user interfaces and tend to not be well-maintained. Thus, broad accessibility to new biology remains limited.
MORPHEOME is a web service that aims to identify functions for all “orphan” genes. Details are forthcoming. For inquiries, please contact timrpeterson[at]wustl[dot]edu.
Machine learning & coding environments
web and app development
wet-labMany forms of CRISPR, e.g., CRISPRi/a, high throughput sequencing.
Health and diseaseaging, pathogens, osteoporosis, mental health, depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer metastasis.
Skillsgenomics, metabolomics, genetics, biochemistry, systems biology, computational biology, chemical biology, biomedical engineering.
Interestscomputer science, quantified self, personalized medicine.
TherapeuticsCationic amphiphiles, a.k.a., lysosmotropic agents. These include antidepressants, cancer drugs such as tamoxifen, arrythmia drugs, and immune modulating and infectious agent prophylaxtic drugs such as chloroquine, bisphosphonates (osteoporosis, cancer metastasis to bone), SSRIs (depression, anxiety), statins (cardiovascular disease), lithium (mood disorders), biguanides (diabetes).